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Brown on drought: ‘A call to arms’

Gov. Brown, facing the second major drought of his political career and the worst dry spell in a century, signed an executive order Friday urging Californians to voluntarily cut their water use by 20 percent, and eased rules to enable farmers to purchase water from those with more plentiful supplies.

“We are in an unprecedented, very serious situation,” the governor said at a San Francisco press conference.  People should “pause and reflect on how dependent we are on rain and on mother nature.”

Brown, who during his first term as governor in the 1970s dealt with a then-unprecedented drought, said the politics of water was secondary to the need to deal with the problem.

With federal forecasters predicting a 90-day dry spell and with low levels at reservoirs across the state already dropping dramatically, the governor said the voluntary request could become a mandatory order if conservation goals are not met. Reservoirs have dropped below their historic lows and the Sierra Nevada snow pack, a critical indicator of spring runoff, is at only 20 percent of average.

Lake Oroville (Photo: DWR)

Lake Oroville (Photo: DWR)

“A formal drought declaration signals that the state is prepared to channel resources and assistance to the areas in greatest stress this year, and paves the way for water transfers and other actions that can provide relief,” said Timothy Quinn of the Association of California Water Agencies.

Brown, who during his first term as governor in the 1970s dealt with a then-unprecedented drought, said the politics of water was secondary to the need to deal with the problem.

“It’s a call to arms,” he added. “This is not a partisan adversary. This is mother nature.”


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